When my daughter, Amy Royce and her family moved to Washington and bought a house, she found herself the proud owner of a walnut tree and an apple tree. Her husband, Travis is the only one who really likes walnuts, but they all like apples. I think most people do. When the apples ripened, they picked them…lots of them. Then came the decision about what to make with them. For Amy, it was really a non-decision, because she knew she wanted to make Apple Butter…mostly because it reminded her of her great grandma, Vina Hein.
Every summer of Amy and her sister, Corrie Petersen’s childhood, Bob and I took them to visit their Grandma and Grandpa Hein. It was there that the girls first tasted Apple Butter. Since that time, Amy thought of Grandma Hein every time she ate Apple Butter. Corrie doesn’t like apples, so I guess Apple Butter is nothing special to her, but Amy…like the rest of us does, and Apple Butter is a very special. Having it remind us of Grandma Hein is icing on the cake. It’s a memory treat because she comes to mind when we eat it.
Going to visit Grandma and Grandpa Hein was more than just real cream, cows milk, and Apple Butter, though. The time we spent with them was precious. They were such an important part of our lives and we loved visiting them. We played cards, and the kids played with the toys grandma had, but it was still more than that. Grandma told us about her childhood, and showed us pictures of the family. It gave us a sense of belonging. We did belong, of course, but we found out how we belonged. Our visits were so much fun and the girls got to know their grandparents, and that was the most important thing, after all. There were other family members there too, and the girls got to know them too, but there was just something special about being able to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa.
Her style of cooking was very much ranch style. They butchered their own beef, and Grandma made all kinds of beef sausage that was used for sandwiches. They canned fruit, and the fruit with real cream was the dessert. Eggs from their chickens and toast with Apple Butter, were staples for breakfast…and plenty of coffee with real cream, which has ruined regular cream from the store for me. But the biggest memory for Amy, was the Apple Butter, so to be able to make it at home now is the best memory treat there could ever be.
This morning, as my family worked to rake up all the leaves at my mother’s house, I found myself taken back to my childhood years. I remember the many times when my dad would tell all of us girls to get our coats on so we could go out and rake the lawn. I can’t say that it was always the most fun day of our lives, because we really didn’t want to get out there and rake…especially if it was cold outside. Nevertheless, we did as we were told, and like it or not, we raked up all those leaves. These days when we rake Mom’s lawn, we have to tell ourselves that it is time, because Dad isn’t here to get things started. Still, we know that he loved his yard, and he would want it taken care of, so we get out there and take care of it. Today was that day that we told ourselves that the time had come…before the bad weather that is coming on Monday, showed it’s ugly face.
We usually send out a text to the people that we know we can count on to be there, and Mom and Cheryl provide the breakfast of donuts and a lunch of sandwiches and chips. When all the workers have assembled, the work begins. We normally have three or four men show up too, but this year just didn’t work out. The men were either out of town or working. Thankfully, we had my niece, Jenny Spethman’s boys, Xander, Zack, and Isaac to strong arm the bags full of leaves out to the alley for us. Other than those boys, we girls were the worker bees for the day. We had a great time, laughing and fighting the wind for the leaves. I know that a number of them ended up down the street instead of in the bags, because we had a pretty good wind going.
We had a couple of other helpers that we hadn’t exactly planned on, as well. My niece, Jenny’s daughter, Aleesia, and my niece Jessi Sawdon’s dog, Daisy. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but suffice it to say that the two of them managed to remove as many leaves from the piles as they stuck into them. While Jenny was trying to bag the leaves, Aleesia wanted to help, but instead of putting leaves in the bag, she pushed them the other way…out of the pile. As to Daisy, she thought the leaves were something to pay with…or at least in, so she would jump around in the leaves and try to play with the workers. It was all pretty cute, and despite the distractions, we did manage to get the leaves raked up before lunchtime. It just goes to show you what a few worker bees can do.